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Transportation boss Buttigieg sees ‘best chance in any of our lifetimes’ for investment in infrastructure

Transportation Department Secretary Pete Buttigieg is touting the opportunity to go big on infrastructure, as that becomes a key focus for the Biden administration.

The former 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, who endorsed Joe Biden shortly after exiting the White House race, is appearing on Thursday at a House Transportation Committee hearing for a discussion of the administration’s priorities for roads, bridges and other public works.

“I believe that we have — at this moment — the best chance in any of our lifetimes to make a generational investment in infrastructure that will help us meet the country’s most pressing challenges today and create a stronger future for decades to come,” said Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., in his opening remarks.

Reports earlier this week said the Biden administration is planning for a package of investments in infrastructure
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and other domestic priorities that could cost $3 trillion. But there are lots of details to be colored in, including if Biden would support splitting such a package into two bills.

See: Biden eyes $3 trillion package for infrastructure, schools, families

Also: Democrats face choice with infrastructure bill: climate-change action or bipartisan support

Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, the committee’s top Republican, touched on how his party differs with Democrats, saying any infrastructure package “needs to be about roads and bridges” rather than a “Green New Deal.”

“You and I have discussed on a couple of occasions the path to a bipartisan bill,” Graves told Buttigieg. “I don’t think the bill can grow into a multi-trillion dollar catchall. It needs to be manageable and and responsible.”

Read: U.S. gets C- grade on its infrastructure report card

And see: As vague as it is, the Green New Deal could have a real impact on Corporate America

Biden will give more details about his plans for infrastructure investment in a speech on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, according the White House.

The president last month warned that China would “eat our lunch” on infrastructure if the U.S. doesn’t move on its own plan for rebuilding roads and bridges. Buttigieg echoed that view on Thursday.

“We see other countries pulling ahead of us with consequences for strategic and economic competition. By some measures China spends more on infrastructure every year than the U.S. and Europe combined,” the transportation secretary said.

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